The Wessex Pilgrims Cricket Club owes its existence to David Sandham, the current President of the Club, and the enthusiasm and help of several members of the then Oakmead School for Boys. For some years in the seventies, David played league cricket for BAC at Hurn Airport on Saturdays and club cricket for Viscount Crofton's Robin's Cricket Club on Sundays. As he was teaching at Oakmead at the time, he also introduced several of the teaching staff and students to life with the Robins.
The Robins had a great fixture list - one week playing at a stately home, the next against a County Colts eleven - and also a useful pool of players but Hugh Crofton, although a widely-known figure in the sport was never regarded as a born administrator. Consequently, teams against which you had a great battle one season would not appear on the following season's fixture list. Fifteen players would turn up for one game and seven or eight the next. Games would finish on the Isle of Wight two hours after the last Sunday bus to the ferry.
It was on the way back from one such game at Beaulieu, in late August 1976 that the seed was sown. David was driving back with Brian Bennett and Tim Beck when it was agreed that things could not continue as they were. It was decided to start a new team, but with the same philosophy as the Robins. It was to be a friendly club touring side, (no home pitch), which would specialise in playing villages in the New Forest and Dorset. During the close season, a fixture list of twenty-four opponents was arranged for the opening season and the name 'Wessex Pilgrims was coined.
On the 8th May, 1977, eleven stalwarts stepped out on to a muddy Ashmore park, to represent the club for the first time. Ashmore had just got through to the area final of the Haig Village Cricket competition and were expected to be formidable opposition. Ashmore lost the toss and were put in to bat. One and a half-hours later, they were all back in the pavilion, all out for 52 runs. An early tea was called and the Pilgrims were delighted that such success should come so quickly. They needn't have worried on that score. Fifty minutes after the restart, the last Pilgrim was out with the team score on 11. Extras was third-highest scorer with 2. Ashmore had triumphed by 41 runs. ( see Scoresheets )
That original Pilgrims' team demonstrates just how much the club relied on Oakmead. It consisted of five former students, (Tim Beck, Brian Bennett, Don Doe, Ian Doe and Paul Trimby, highest scorer with four runs), one current student, (Paul Fox who took five for eleven off ten overs), four members of staff, (Richard Davis, Clive Jackson, David Sandham and the late Tony Stradling) and, the one 'outsider', John Stacey, (who was unfortunate in being a neighbour of David's at Upton).
From these humble beginnings grew a Cricket Club now looking forwards to its thirty-eighth competitive season.